January 13, 2009

2009: Good year for RP’s gaming biz?

2009: Good year for RP’s gaming biz?
By Alex Villafania

From Inquirer.net, 01/12/2009

MANILA, Philippines--The Philippines saw good growth in the overall gaming industry last year.

Despite looming economic slowdown in the country, gaming companies are not worried.
The online game business in the country is the most successful segment in the gaming business, as it capitalized on Filipino’s community approach.

Millions of Filipinos are playing online games published by companies such as Level Up!, IP e-Games and Amped Games. There are several other publishers that have introduced new games in 2008. But the economic slowdown looms.

IPVG chief executive officer Enrique Gonzales said the economic slowdown might mean less disposable income for gamers and a slowdown in Internet usage among Filipinos.

“Publishers will be more prudent in their aggressiveness in licensing and launching content,” he said. IPVG is the parent company of IP e-Games.

Gonzales said the company is looking at a 30-percent growth for their online game business.
But he believed that the negative effects of the economic slowdown will be compensated by the perception that online gaming is an affordable entertainment.

“So all in all, online gaming is one of the ‘safe havens’ or sectors least affected by an economic downturn,” he said.

Jake San Diego, marketing director for game publishing firm Level Up! Philippines, said the free-to-play model would still play a big factor in the survivability of online gaming businesses. San Diego agreed online gaming is an inexpensive and more convenient form of entertainment.

The Level Up! Philippines executive said the company is looking at releasing new content that would grow the business in 2009. This means targeting newer markets that have yet to be tapped, he added.

Meanwhile, Filipino game development firms are taking a cautious stance in 2009. Industry organization Game Development Association of the Philippines (GDAP) is preparing for 2009, according to Gabby Dizon, GDAP President.

Dizon, also president of game development company Flipside Games, said they are monitoring effects of the economic slowdown but believe the industry is more resilient.
Local game developers are also hoping to get some windfall from offshore outsourcing projects from bigger development companies.

“We’re not seeing a rapid drop off of activity that other sectors may be facing. Cautious optimism is our guidance for 2009,” Dizon said.

Niel Dagondon, co-founder Filipino game developer Anino Entertainment, added some offshore projects were postponed or cancelled. This has forced them to fight for fewer projects. “Many game publishers are also having difficulty meeting payment obligations which would mean we have to tighten our belts,” Dagondon said.

Dagondon said Anino Entertainment is holding back on hiring new people until they have found new projects.

“We have also examined our operations and will be shifting business models, which would result in having leaner operations during the dry season,” he said.
Amid the expected economic slowdown this year, executives in the video gaming business remain optimistic.

San Diego said Level Up! Philippines is waiting for Rohan Online and Hello Kitty launch in the Philippines.

Gonzales, on the other hand, said he is hoping to see the latest Hitman game, Tekken 6 and Grand Theft Auto IV for the PS3 this year.

Meanwhile, Dagondon said he is wishing for the games Spore and Fallout 3 to arrive soon. Dizon, for his part, said he is interested in the Apple iPhone as a gaming platform and wishes that some Filipinos would create games for this platform.

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Heard that game developers? "create games for iPhone platform"! It's the next evolution of touchpad gaming! -Lady 'K